Team Leader - Forest Elephant Movement and Behavioral Ecology Project

May 08, 2017
Jun 01, 2017
Job Level
Entry level
Employment Type
Full time, Volunteer

Job Description:
The Poulsen Lab at Duke University is looking for an enthusiastic, motivated volunteer team leader to manage a research team, collect and process scientific data as part of the Forest Elephant Movement and Behavioral Ecology Project. This project studies 53 forest elephants fitted with GPS collars. The research focuses on tracking elephants from a distance to study their diet, movement and social behavior. Each team will collect plants for chemical analysis, fecal samples for genetic analysis and record habitat variables, phenology and weather. The team leader is also responsible for monthly reporting of activities and expenditures. The candidate will learn about tropical ecology, botany, natural history, and conservation biology, as well as what it takes to organize field projects in Central Africa.

Duration: 12 months, starting early July 2017

    - Hiring, training and managing two Gabonese field assistants.
    - Tracking and collecting field data on GPS collared elephants.
    - Collecting, storing and potentially exporting ecological samples.
    - Working with collaborators in French-speaking Gabon.
    - Reporting regularly to Duke and Gabonese government collaborators.

Physical Requirements:
Elephants often occur in extremely remote and challenging habitats, including swamps and mountainous terrain. Candidates must be able to hike from 6-25 km (3-15 miles) daily in hot, muggy and even rainy weather, while carrying a heavy backpack of camping and research equipment. Research expeditions will entail camping in a tent for a few weeks at a time.

Gabon is a French-speaking country and the team leader is required to communicate in this language. Applicants must hold an undergraduate or graduate degree in biology, ecology or a wildlife-related field. Candidates must be independent, reliable and responsible with the ability to work in challenging environments. A successful candidate will thrive in small team settings and work across cultures. Candidates with previous experience in the tropics, especially Africa will be given preference.

Support Provided:
    - Food and lodging at the field site
    - Visa fees
    - Work-related travel within country
    - Round trip airline travel to Gabon will be reimbursed at completion of a successful term of work
    - Field equipment necessary for camping and conducting research
    - Stipend of $200 per month

Candidates are required to cover:
    - Medical and evacuation insurance
    - All vaccinations required for the country prior to departure

To Apply:
Interested applicants may send a CV and cover letter to amelia.meier (at) with the subject line "(candidate's last name) - Team Leader Position”

If your application is short-listed, you will be required to provide 2 letters of reference (this can also be submitted with the initial application email if desired). Skype interviews will be held after reviewing the letter of reference. A portion of the interview will be in French.  

To read more about the Poulsen Lab and what we do visit: